Cool in the kitchen
Disney’s new local kids’ show brings cooking alive – from the farm to the table.
Kirsten Mohammed and Mthunzi Nyoti help the Cookabout kids. Season 1 Fridays (from 5 August) SABC2 (*192) 15:30
Over a period of five-and-a half weeks in autumn this year, 10 cooks aged 11 to 13 travelled around the Western Cape, finding out where our food comes from. But that’s only part of new local kiddies’ show Disney Cookabout (2016- current), because when the mini- chefs get back to the kitchen, the pressure’s on them to turn those fresh ingredients into home cooking. But don’t expect anything as competitive as most reality cooking shows – the gold trophy is made of spray-painted spoons and the real prize of this fun edutainment show is the adventure and experiencing the funky interactive kitchen – plus, the opportunity for the children on the show to nip out of school during exam season. We got to taste-test the series and here’s what we learnt about the journey from studio to TV screen…
The kids are helped on set by the sweet “chef” Kirsten Mohammed (who’s smaller than some of the kids) The show’s set is bright, colourful and fun for the contestants. There are fun props like goose measuring cups.
and lively “sous chef” Mthunzi Nyoti, both of whom are performers rather than kitchen pros. Unlike MasterChef Junior (2013- current) or Junior Bake Off’s (2011- current) contestants, Cookabout’s kids aren’t allowed to handle knives or lift hot items. Kirsten and Mthunzi take care of anything that could potentially cause injury.
The set comes alive when the words “Awesome Kitchen” are said – lights flash and drawers and doors whoosh open. Some of that, like the pantry door, is automated, but the fridge and the drawers under the ovens are operated by people standing out of sight listening for their cues to open and shut things.
INSIDE THE FRIDGE
When the kids ask the “fridge” for their ingredients, it will rotate to “magically” reveal exactly what they need. That’s all kept in a real fridge behind the set and put on the shelves at the last minute by the out-of-sight props team.
The art team’s biggest challenge was the “magic door” that travels with the children to the roughly 20 different locations they visit – from Kalk Bay to Grabou (for apples and herbs), to the Cederberg (for Rooibos, mangoes and citrus) over mountain passes and dirt roads. It takes four strong men 90 minutes to put the door on the truck and another hour-and-a-half to take it down again after filming.
HECTIC FOR HERBS
Production originally wanted to include a living herb wall for the kids to pick from, but instead they wound up using plastic herbs as a set decoration because real herbs would wilt and die under the intense heat of the studio lights.
STOCKING THE PANTRY
After first speaking to Cookabout’s food consultant Christine Capendale to check scripts and review the 48 recipe breakdowns used throughout the two seasons (of 13 episode each), the prop team took about three weeks to source all the gorgeous and colourful crockery used onscreen. They went to ordinary shops, like ChinaTown, Pick ’n Pay, Checkers, @home and Clicks. But occasionally you’ll see some adorable kitchen item that’s been hired from a prop house, like tvplus’s favourite item from the pantry: the adorable goose measuring cups. The taps work, but the kiddie contestants don’t have to wash up – that’s for the production crew.